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PEAK 2022 Countdown to Black Friday continues

Image: Markus Spiska/Unsplash

Continuing our in-depth focus on the peak trading period – and with one day to go – more data has arrived outlining how consumers are set to start shopping and how retailers are responding. 

What consumers think of Black Friday

According to research from customer research platform Attest – and despite the roll-out of further sales days like a second Prime Day – it appears that Black Friday has further enhanced its reputation as the premier sales event in the calendar for UK consumers.  

This is backed up by data from GWI Zeitgeist that reveals 54% of UK and US consumers are planning to shop this Black Friday, compared to only 42% last year. 

Of those surveyed by Attest, nearly half (49%) agree it is the best day to buy discounted products (more than last year’s 38%). Yet there are signs of sales fatigue amongst hard-pressed consumers. A majority of 43% think the Black Friday sales event should be limited to 1-3 days at most, followed by 33% who believe it should just be a one-day event. 

When it comes to their favourite retailers on the day, consumers were most likely to select Amazon as their top choice for Black Friday sales, followed far behind by Currys and John Lewis.

Separate research from Publicis Sapient and YouGov finds, however, that inflation has put a damper on Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping – 72% of shoppers say they will buy fewer gifts than they did last year, and the majority of consumers (65%) do not plan to shop on Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday at all. Those who have decided to participate in Black Friday and Cyber Monday demand deeper discounts to persuade them to purchase with most shoppers (25%) saying that only a discount of 50% or more will compel them to purchase a product. Retail loyalty seems to no longer be a priority for 73% of consumers; 33% say they are hunting for whichever brand has the best deal, with the other 40% reports no retailer loyalty in general.

Spenders’ plans for Black Friday

According to Attest, 58% of UK shoppers plan to spend less this year compared to last, saving money for day-to-day expenses and energy bills. 

Last year, Attest found that UK consumers were, on average, spending £100-£200 (at 30%) on Black Friday. This year, people are most likely to say they’re not sure how much they’ll spend (24%) pointing to economic uncertainty, followed by £51-£100 (at 20%).

The picture of an unsure British consumer is also found in what products people will buy this Black Friday. Most (34%) are “not sure yet”. However, an interesting shift could unfold this year. Past research from Attest has found that technology products have always been the most sought-after by consumers for Black Friday. 

This year, clothing (at 32%) is the main type of product people plan to buy, followed by technology items (28%).

This is backed up by YouGov/Publicis Sapient, which finds that more than half of consumers (51%) plan to buy fewer gifts this year, compared to only 39% of Gen Z, who are instead combatting inflation by hunting for sales (41%)

Most of Gen Z (69%) is shopping for clothing this season, but other generations are most commonly shopping for the essentials, like food and gas.

The YouGov/Publicis Sapient study finds that 60% of consumers shop with an item in mind, and 85% only purchase items they know they want or need. It also suggests that most consumers (78%) are researching specific deals and retailers (67%) before they go shopping, compared to only 58% that said the same last year. Some 34% of consumers prefer brands to offer holiday deals before the season starts, while 29% prefer brands to hold off until the holiday season begins.

In-store, online, or omnichannel?

Where consumers plan to shop Black Friday – and beyond – presents a mixed picture. According to YouGov/Publicis Sapient, On average, consumers say they’ll do half of their shopping online (53%) and half of their shopping in-store (47%). Attest, however, sees online ranking much higher, with a wide majority of 63% making purchases exclusively online and just 10% will venture into the shops.

Meanwhile, data from GWI suggest that 69% are looking for an omnichannel experience this Black Friday, with plans to shop both in physical stores and online to some extent. 

Retailers respond

Online businesses are putting in more time and energy researching their rivals’ prices before deciding on their own markdown. Insights from Oxylabs indicates a significant shift in retailer expectations in this year’s Black Friday, with some product categories poised to generate the greatest rivalry in 2022.

The once-popular Black Friday sale category of consumer electronics has seen a precipitous decline in recent years. Retailers anticipate that customers will buy products from other categories, as seen by consumer electronics data dropping out of the top 10 in 2022 after ranking sixth in 2020 and 2021.

Newcomers to the top 10 are Personal Care Product and Health & Wellness, showing that businesses are anticipating a rise in demand for such necessities.

The wellness industry is rapidly expanding and becoming a top concern for consumers. With rapid changes and post-pandemic influence, consumer interest in health seems to be only increasing. According to a recent McKinsey research, about 50% of US consumers now rank health as a significant priority in their daily lives, up from 42% in 2020.

McKinsey’s study estimates that spending on wellness goods and services in the United States alone is over $450 billion, expanding at a rate of more than 5% each year. So, it is no surprise that our research also found exponential growth in the Health, Wellness & Fitness industry.

Additionally, customers no longer place their primary importance just on low prices as a purchasing determinant. This year, it is anticipated that greater value and excellent service would be major selling factors in the marketplace.

Retailers and manufacturers gather information about their competitors’ by scraping prices, product availability, shipping information, and promotions, to mention a few. This information enables them to make calculated decisions about discounts and promotions, particularly during Black Friday.

Beyond Black Friday

While Black Friday and Cyber Monday give a view of how shoppers start their peak shopping, it is often how that then plays out that informs retailers of trends to expect in the months ahead. 

According to the Attest data, 77% of consumers are most likely to give fewer presents to their loved ones this Christmas overall in response to the cost of living crisis (24%). This is followed by those who will give “much cheaper” presents (21%) and 18% who will gift fewer people in total. 

Other solutions cash-strapped consumers will rely on include: gifting no one, giving second-hand/homemade products (both 5%), and providing presents without wrapping (3%). 

Of the 18% who say they will gift fewer people in total this year, they are most likely to cut out work colleagues (23%) and friends (16%) from holiday gifting. Yet family members aren’t immune from having to experience a present-less Christmas, with 9% planning to avoid gifting siblings. 

Incredibly, some brave shoppers (7%) even plan to avoid gifting their spouse/partner this year due to inflation. 

Data from YouGov/Publicis Sapient suggests that most British consumers (43%) expect the best discounts of the season during the week after Christmas.

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